2SLGBTQ+ Newcomers

JIAS is inclusive, friendly, and proud to serve all newcomers regardless of faith or country of origin.

2SLGBTQ+ Newcomers

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex newcomers leave their homes and countries for many reasons.

For some, it is for economic or social reasons, just like many other immigrants.

Others arrive in our country as refugees and asylum seekers to escape stigmatization, marginalization, shaming, and threats from family members, among other forms of life-threatening discrimination. They look to Canada to protect themselves from persecution due to sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression (SOGIE).

Regardless of why you are here, or planning to come to Canada, JIAS is here to help welcome, settle and integrate you into your new Canadian community. Please call 416-630-6481 or email intake@jiastoronto.org.

Our commitment to diversity & inclusion is seen at every level of our organization

Our commitment to diversity & inclusion is seen at every level of our organization

An organizational scan of 2SLGBTQ+ issues was conducted, and processes across the agency were revised to ensure an inclusive environment for all clients and stakeholders. A 2SLGBTQ+ Workgroup comprised of a cross-section of JIAS staff was established in 2020 to support ongoing agency advancement. The Workgroup oversees training for staff, management and the board of directors.

2SLGBTQ+ immigrants and refugees

We provide all 2SLGBTQ+ newcomers with information about their rights and responsibilities in Canada. Our workshops provide human rights information and explain cultural norms in Canada as it pertains to housing access, employment opportunities, workplace culture, and more.

In addition, we are committed to providing full support to 2SLGBTQ+ refugees during the pre-arrival application process and post-arrival settlement in Canada.

JIAS works with Jewish Family and Child Services, The 519, EgaleTa’amod, Rainbow Railroad and other organizations to continuously improve our understanding, service offerings, and protocols in serving marginalized communities.

2SLGBTQ+ immigrants and refugees
Advancements & setbacks

Advancements & setbacks

In recent years, there have been significant advancements in the rights of same-sex unions and people who identify as 2SLGBTQ+. Despite this, in 73 countries, 2SLGBTQ+ persons are subject to imprisonment and persecution.

2SLGBTQ+ persons are persecuted for real or perceived reasons, including the false belief that they encourage unwanted or unnatural social change.

The 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees recognizes refugee claims based on sexual orientation. Yet, barriers to presenting claims and receiving refugee status based on these claims remain problematic.

The Rainbow Refugee Assistance Partnership (RRAP) was established with the support of the Canadian government to support Canadians in privately sponsoring 2SLGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and two-spirited) refugees. In 2020, the government increased the number of privately sponsored 2SLGBTQ+ refugees worldwide to 50 per year.

The RRAP was established in cooperation with the Rainbow Refugee Society and strengthens the collaboration between 2SLGBTQ+ organizations and the refugee settlement community in Canada.

Information for (all) 2SLGBTQ+ newcomers

Responds to the evolving needs of the LGBTQ2S communities, from counselling services and queer parenting resources to coming out groups, trans programming, and seniors’ support.

The Canadian Human Rights Act of 1977 protects people in Canada from discrimination when employed by or receiving services from the federal government, First Nations governments or private companies.

This Guideline is to promote a greater understanding of cases involving sexual orientation, gender identity and expression and sex characteristics (SOGIESC) and the harm individuals may face due to their non-conformity with socially accepted SOGIESC norms in a particular cultural environment. It addresses the particular challenges SOGIESC individuals may face in presenting their cases before the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) and establishes guiding principles for members in adjudicating cases involving SOGIESC.

Border officials in Canada must follow established procedures for changing identity documents to a person’s preferred identity to obtain further support from services to help with their integration in Canada.

Information for 2SLGBTQ+ refugees (only)

Applicants persecuted for their diverse SOGIE are typically well suited for the Blended Visa Office-Referred Refugee (BVOR) Program.

(JAS) – Under extreme circumstances, a refugee who has a sponsorship under the BVOR program may warrant extended support found in the JAS.

The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) is the primary federal legislation regulating immigration to Canada.

This report summarizes the research undertaken by the Envisioning Global LGBT Human Rights Canada Research Team from 2012-2014. It is one of a number of outcomes of the Envisioning project’s research on LGBT refugee claimants in Canada.

Operation Syrian Refugees was Canada’s response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria that welcomed 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada in 100 days.

If you are a refugee fleeing persecution based on sexual orientation or gender identity and meet the eligibility and admissibility requirements of the Canadian resettlement program, you can resettle in Canada.

Claims relating to sexual orientation are primarily recognized under the 1951 Convention on the grounds of membership in a particular social group. There may, however, be other intersecting reasons for refugee claims, such as political opinion and religion.

Many governments have updated their policy guidance reflecting this understanding, with several adopting national legislation stating that persecution based on gender identity or sexual orientation is a valid basis for refugee status.

The Canada Border Services Agency determines if a person is eligible to make a claim and for assessment by the Refugee Protection Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board.

report by the Envisioning Global LGBT Human Rights Canada Research Team examined LGBT refugee rights and identified many barriers facing this population.

Some of these barriers stemmed from The Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act, which came into effect on December 15, 2012. The Act created a two-tiered system based on a Designated Country of Origin list.

It also shortened the timeline for the refugee determination process from 28 days to 15 days. During this time, the claimant must submit their personal information, find a lawyer, access adequate finances, and gather documentation with evidence to support their claim.

The documentation must show evidence of BOTH persecution and ‘proof’ of sexual orientation and/or gender identity. This could include police reports, medical files and testimonies, evidence extremely difficult and unlikely to obtain at all, or in a short period.

In addition to this burden of proof being undignified and offensive, it can put 2SLGBTQ+ claimants in danger of having to confront people from whom they have kept this information. As a result, the process risks retribution and triggering further trauma.

“Proof” is also needed to confirm a relationship with a same-sex spouse for sponsorship purposes, allowed under Canadian law. Yet, same-sex couples seeking asylum in Canada most likely lived secret lives to shield themselves and loved ones from societal, cultural and familial pressures.

These and other barriers make the application process often undignified and incredibly difficult.